Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti on Thursday wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah questioning him about New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and the law under which she had been detained in her home.
The former chief minister’s daughter has been under house arrest since August 5 at the family’s Gupkar Road residence in Srinagar. Mehbooba Mufti was also put in detention along with several other political leaders, including former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, the same day. Kashmiri bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, who was detained at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport and sent back to Kashmir on Wednesday, was reportedly taken to a makeshift detention centre at the Centaur Hotel in Srinagar on Thursday.
The Centre imposed a curfew in the state on August 5 and cut off communication networks hours before rescinding its autonomy and splitting it into two Union Territories. The state has witnessed sporadic protests since then, especially in Kashmir Valley. Restrictions have been been partially lifted in Jammu but remain in place in the Valley.
Iltija Mufti said she had no option but to write to Shah as there was no clarity why she had been detained. She said Kashmiris were “reeling under despair” since last week.
“Today while the rest of the country celebrates India’s Independence Day, Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights,” she wrote. Iltija Mufti mentioned in the letter that visitors were not allowed to meet her and called it “odd” since she was not affiliated to any political party. She said she was informed by security personnel that she had been detained because of her interviews to media, and was “threatened with dire consequences”, if she spoke to the press again.
On August 6, Iltija Mufti had called the Centre’s decisions “completely undemocratic”, and said her mother’s arrest was to “break her spirit”.
“I’d be most obliged if you could kindly throw light on the laws under which I’ve been detained and for how long,” she told Amit Shah. “Do I need to seek legal recourse?” Iltija Mufti concluded saying it was “suffocating and humiliating” to be treated in this manner “for stating the inconvenient truth”.
Here is the full letter:
I am left with no other option but to write to you since I’ve made several unsuccessful attempts to get a degree of clarity on my detention. Hope and pray that I am not punished/penalised or arrested for raising questions about my fundamental rights.
Kashmir is engulfed in clouds of darkness and I fear for the safety of its people including those who spoke up. We Kashmiris are reeling in despair since the unilateral abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. My mother, Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was detained along with scores of other elected representatives the very same day.
It’s now been over ten long agonising days since this crippling curfew was imposed. The valley is gripped with fear because all forms of communications have been snapped thereby debilitating an entire population. Today while the rest of the country celebrates India’s Independence Day, Kashmiris have been caged like animals and deprived of basic human rights.
Unfortunately, for reasons best known to you, I also have been placed under detention at my residence. We are not even told when visitors are turned away from the gate and I am not allowed to step out either. Odd, since I am not affiliated to any political party and have always been a law abiding citizen.
However, the security personnel have cited my interviews to various media portals and newspapers as the reason for my detention. In fact, I’ve been threatened with dire consequences if I speak up again.
Pertinent to mention that the recurrent theme of these interviews was unconstitutional abrogation of the Article 370 followed by an unprecedented curfew. I also expressed concern for my mother’s safety, who along with hundreds of political detainees have been jailed since August 5, 2019.
With due respect, I fail to understand why I am being punished for speaking on behalf on Kashmiris whose voices have been smothered. Is it a crime to articulate the pain, torment and indignity we’ve been subjected to?
Does it warrant a detention to describe our plight? I’d be most obliged If you could kindly throw light on the laws under which I’ve been detained and for how long? Do I need to seek legal recourse?
It’s suffocating and humiliating to be treated in this manner. I have to grovel for permission to allow my aged grandmother to visit her son. Is she also a potential threat?
For the world’s largest democracy, doesn’t a citizen not have a right to speak up in the face of unimaginable repression? Satyamev jayate i.e. truth only triumphs has defined the spirit of our country and it’s constitution. It’s a tragic irony that I am being treated like a war criminal for stating the inconvenient truth.
Apologies for not posting this letter but as you’re aware postal services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended.
May truth prevail.